So you’re planning a night out on the town this weekend and much to your dismay your friends are surely going to want to take your photo!

Have no fear! You can rock that cell phone pic! A lot of work goes into posing and lighting a professional portrait, but here are three quick tips that I give to all of my clients to help them look their best.

(1) Shift Your Weight

Here’s the easiest trick to instantly losing 10 pounds in front of every camera: don’t stand on both feet!  Shift all of your weight to one leg, and make sure that leg is the one furthest from the camera. It also helps to turn your body so that it is facing about 45 degrees to the right or left of the camera. These techniques will hide some of your body mass and make you appear thinner in the photograph. You might also pay attention to where the light is coming from — turn your body slightly away from the light and point your face back toward the light source.  This will have the subtle effect of placing your body into the shadow and therefore it will be emphasized less than your face in the final image.

Professional headshot of corporate woman in parking lot pictured with company trucks and blue dress shirt.

(2) Watch your Posture

Didn’t your mom always tell you to sit up straight when you were a kid?  Mine too!  But, those words of advice can make a big difference when you are being photographed. There’s nothing worse than slouching when you are being photographed. It can make you look tired and larger than you actually are.  Instead, sitting or standing straight with good posture will make you look thinner and more confident on camera.  Don’t just think of it as sitting up straight, however, Your goal is to lengthen your spine all the way from your tail bone to the top of your neck.  This will naturally cause your body to curve in a pleasing way.

(3) Pretend You’re a Turtle

It’s hard to imagine that looking like a turtle can improve your portrait, but it can!  Let’s play “Simon Says” for a minute.  Simon says look at yourself in the mirror. Simon says touch the tip of your nose with your right index finger.  Now grab your ear lobes with your left hand (Did I get you?). Seriously now, drop the tip of your nose to the point where it is at or slightly below your earlobe. Now, ever so slightly, push your chin forward to the mirror just a small bit. This technique works wonders to hide double chins and give a pleasing look to your jaw line. Practice a bit until you find a placement that looks both beautiful and natural.

Bonus tip: Smile!

In my opinion, 90% of people look best in a portrait with a smile. But not that awkward “say cheese” kind of smile, a real natural smile!  When someone tells you to smile for a photograph, don’t just raise the corners of your mouth, give a genuine expression. Maybe even fake a laugh (or better yet, laugh for real)! You’ll be amazed at how much a beautiful, natural smile can improve even the worst picture!